"My ideal is to listen against an ultra-silent background, to a presentation that is natural, dynamic and matte like the real thing. I'm not in search of glossy FX. So scaling up my range approaches this ideal as closely as possible. It reveals more and more detail whilst maintaining or improving all the other parameters. The least expensive model which I already find quite expensive pursues the same idea. In fact, the connector of the Alpha range is quite similar to what's in our top Gaia. The quality of its other parts is the same." This left the question what actually changes materially between Linéa and Gaia across his ten ranges: more shielding or damping layers; higher conductor density; tighter tolerances to drive up reject assemblies and thus costs as do special editions in any sector? "In the upper ranges we use more and more copper; over 1'120 strands x 2 for a pair of Lumina RCA, more than 14'000 x 2 in a pair of Gaia HP. This improves serenity, silence, bandwidth and energy." Other materials change as well but those Richard keeps close to his chest. Suffice to say, the amount of labour alone in a Gaia is well more than ten times that of an Alpha. As to bias batteries, "we use 9V Lithium Ultralife units whose manufacturer states a life expectancy of 10 years in open air. We recommend to exchange them after 5 years."

As to break-in, a still oft-contested cable subject, "cables are capacitors. They need to be loaded for thirty hours to overcome initial defects. 150-200 hours then arrive at top behaviour. After shipping, it will take 10 hours of constant electrical signal to regain that state." When the shipment was about to depart, Richard added that "the interconnect and speaker suffered 24 hours at 380V. It will take a new charge (with music!) of twenty hours to be on top again. The power cords did no work but this is less critical. Be aware that the electrical installation must be grounded." Not that we would have it any other way.

Delivery in a surprisingly sizeable carton revealed ten zippered shells in clear plastic sleeves. Each sported a glue-on label specifying contents. If in the past you've felt mad—over flash display boxes that spent your hard-earned money on stuff which ends up in the garage—Esprit keep you chilled. Nicely reusable but cost-effective, their delivery solution splits the middle between throwaway one-timers and heirloom bling. Here's quick visual documentation for each cable type sent:

As this USB cable shows, Richard's idea on ferrite clamps isn't that petite.